John Sebastian is 70 (tomorrow)

It was a teen music magazine in which John Sebastian alerted me to the fact that the UK and US versions of Beatles albums were not the same.

Zal Yanofsky, John Sebastian, Steve Boone, Joe Butler
Zal Yanofsky, John Sebastian, Steve Boone, Joe Butler

Also used for ABC Wednesday, Round 15 – L is for Lovin’ Spoonful:

When I joined the Capitol Record Club back in 1965 or 1966, I got 12 albums for “free”, plus shipping and handling, and had to order 10 or 12 more at full retail price, plus S&H. There was this thing called negative option (they didn’t call it that) whereby if you didn’t return a postcard by a certain date, you’d get the next selection. I believe that is how I came to get the album Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful, the American group’s second album.

Though annoyed by my own disorganization, in fact, I LOVED this album so much that I subsequently bought the 2002 extended CD of this, which was fine, because the vinyl version was full of pops and scratches from being overplayed. And as a liner note reader, I noticed that all but one of the songs was written by one John Sebastian, who was the lead singer on many of them as well.

I bought other albums by the group, a single, and even a couple of Sebastian solo albums, but nothing did I love as much as that first combination of rock, folk, and blues. The story of the Lovin’ Spoonful is told, in part, in a song by the Mamas and the Papas called Creeque Alley; Zal refers to the late Zal Yanovsky (d. 2002), lead guitarist/vocalist for the Spoonful. LISTEN.

It was a teen music magazine in which John Sebastian alerted me to the fact that the UK and US versions of Beatles albums were not the same. He claimed that Drive My Car was his favorite song on Rubber Soul. At first, I thought he was confused – it’s on the US Yesterday and Today – but eventually, I figured out that he must have heard the UK pressing.

John Sebastian sorta sang and rambled a lot at Woodstock. “You’re truly amazing, you’re a whole city.” And he ended up having a #1 hit song based on a TV theme song. I met him once, briefly, on Central Avenue in Albany, at a club, but I don’t recall the conversation.

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning earlier this year, and there was John Sebastian talking about the mystique of the Martin guitar.

FAVORITE JOHN SEBASTIAN SONGS, all Lovin’ Spoonful unless otherwise indicated. LISTEN to all except #20. Chart listings are for US Billboard singles.
20. Four of Us (from The Four of Us – solo album) – it took up a whole side of the LP. It goes through so many musical styles, I think I admired its ambition more than anything.

19. Warm Baby (from Daydream -D). Most of the songs from this album will get no explanation.

18. I Had A Dream (from John B. Sebastian – solo album.) I admire its hippie optimism.

17. There She Is (D)

16. Didn’t Want To Have To Do It (D). there’s some lovely harmonies on the bridge.

15. Day Blues (D).

14. Rainbows All Over Your Blues (JBS).

13. Rain on the Roof (from Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful). Such a gentle song.

12. Butchie’s Tune (D). such a badly named song, about leaving.

11. Welcome Back (from Welcome Back – solo album). I just didn’t want to like a song that was the theme to a TV show, in this case, welcome Back, Kotter. But I do. AND it went to #1 in 1976.

10. You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice (D). It’s so…nice. Went to #10 in 1966.

9. Six O’Clock (from Everything’s Playing). One of the rare singles I ever purchased (and i never bought the album), it’s the opening wake-up noise that I liked. #18 in 1967.

8. Bald-Headed Lena (D). A truly goofy song and the only non-original on the album. Gargling?

7. It’s Not Time Now (D). I used the lyrics of this song to describe the 1980 Democratic primary season with Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy:
Carter: I’d like to tell you that’s it’s fine, but it’s not time now.
Brown: I can’t seem to get a word in edgewise anyhow.

6. Do You Believe In Magic (from Do You Believe In Magic). Yes, I do believe it’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll. #9 in 1965, the group’s first hit.

5. Darling Be Home Soon (from You’re A Big Boy Now). This is a sad, plaintive song. #15 in 1967.

4. Daydream (D). Sounds as though Sebastian just woke up. #2 in 1966.

3. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (DYBIM). “You better go home, son, and make up your mind.” #2 in 1966.

2. Summer in the City (HotLS). I made feeble attempts to play this on the piano. It FEELS like it sounds: “Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.” #1 for three weeks in 1966.

1. Jug Band Music (D) – a funny story-song that is about the restorative power of music.

Summer Song: Summer in the City

Summer in the City entered the Billboard charts on the 16th of July 1966, and spent 11 weeks there, including three consectutive weeks at #1, starting on 13th of August.

When I joined the Capitol Record Club in 1965, book and record clubs had this thing called the negative option. That is, you would get the selected book or record UNLESS you sent in the response card in time. I was really bad at the negative option; I almost NEVER got the card in on time.

Which is how I ended up receiving the album Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful on Kama Sutra Records; loved that yellow label. Turns out, I was very fond of the early Spoonful. And when the subsequent single Summer in the City came out in 1966 (b/w Butchie’s Tune from the Daydream album), I had to buy it, probably from the Philadelphia Sales discount department store in Binghamton, NY, which was only two blocks from my elementary/junior high school, one of the very few singles I ever purchased; I was, even early on, an LP guy.

Summer in the City entered the Billboard charts on the 16th of July 1966, and spent 11 weeks there, including three consecutive weeks at #1, starting on the 13th of August.

It is one of the few songs I ever learned to play on the piano, albeit very badly.

Summer in the City
a grainy ‘live’ version

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